Non-profit

Media Research Center

Website:

www.mrc.org/

Location:

RESTON, VA

Tax ID:

54-1429009

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $14,208,060
Expenses: $13,202,105
Assets: $17,273,058

Formation:

1987

President:

L. Brent Bozell III

Type:

Conservative media watchdog

The Media Research Center (MRC) is a right-of-center media watchdog. MRC provides commentary on news reports published by mainstream media outlets and illustrates what it characterizes as implicit and explicit left-of-center bias in the metropolitan print media, cable news, and over-the-air television news.

MRC was founded by L. Brent Bozell III in 1987 to expose liberal bias in the metropolitan media and encourage more balanced reporting. Over time, Bozell has grown more hostile toward the mainstream media and no longer believes it can be reformed. [1] Bozell was initially a fierce conservative opponent of Donald Trump, but became an outspoken defender of Trump against media attacks. MRC criticized the mainstream media’s treatment of Trump and released numerous reports showing overwhelming bias against him.

MRC was established with funding from a single anonymous donor. It is currently funded by numerous major Republican and conservative donors, including Robert Mercer’s Mercer Family Foundation, the Sarah Scaife Foundation, and Donors Trust/Donors Capital Fund.

In 2004, conservative-turned-liberal activist David Brock founded Media Matters for America, a left-wing media watchdog modeled after MRC. [2]

History

The Media Research Center was founded in 1987 by L. Brent Bozell III, nephew of National Review founder William F. Buckley, and son of Senator Barry Goldwater’s (R-AZ) speechwriter and ghostwriter, Brent Bozell Jr. Bozell III founded MRC with funds from a now-deceased anonymous donor. [3]

Bozell’s initial goal was to catalog instances of liberal bias in news reports to encourage media reform. He began producing “MediaWatch,” a monthly newsletter which found traction with conservative staffers and politicians in Washington, D.C. Allegedly, mainstream media outlets quickly became aware of the newsletter and feared inclusion on its pages. [4] In 1996, MRC replaced “MediaWatch” with “CyberAlert,” an online newsletter, which ended in 2009. [5]

In 1992, Bozell took a leave of absence from MRC to serve as the finance chair for Pat Buchanan’s Republican primary challenge against President George H.W. Bush. [6]

MRC founded the Parents Television Council (PTC), a Christian-conservative advocacy group opposed to depictions of violence and sex on television. PTC was spun off into an independent organization in 2000 with Bozell as its president. In 2006, Bozell stepped down from his position at PTC but remained as chairman of the board. [7]

Outlets

The Media Research Center is divided into six outlets: CNSNews, MRCNewsBusters, MRCBusiness, MRCCulture, MRCLatino, and MRCTV. [8]

CNSNews

CNSNews is MRC’s most traditional media outlet and reports on stories that are “unreported, underreported, or misreported by the national media.” Under editor Terry Jeffrey, CNSNews purports to publish news stories without the left-wing bias found in traditional media outlets. [9][10] Other outlets have referred to CNSNews as “conservative.” In July 2020, Media Post named CNSNews as the “fastest-growing conservative news site.” [11]

NewsBusters

NewsBusters provides daily reports on bias in news stories. The outlet typically copies excerpts from articles from mainstream news sites, and MRC pundits provide commentary explaining the left-wing bias implicit in the reporting. [12]

MRC Business

MRC Business provides commentary from a pro-free market perspective on economic and financial news stories. [13]

MRC Culture

MRC Culture provides conservative commentary on culture war news. [14]

MRC Latino

MRC Latino reports on liberal bias in Hispanic and Spanish-language media. [15]

MRCTV

MRCTV (formerly known as Eyeblast) provides video commentary on news stories from a conservative perspective. [16]

Relationship with the Trump Administration

Media Research Center president L. Brent Bozell III was an early opponent of Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. Bozell spoke out against Trump both privately with donors and publicly. He was one of numerous prominent conservatives to contribute to National Review’s February 2016 “Against Trump” issue, in which he called Trump a “shamless self-promoter,” a “charlatan,” and a “huckster.” On a Fox News interview, Bozell stated, “God help this country if this man were president.” [17]

According to sources in MRC, Bozell’s opposition to Trump hurt the organization’s fundraising. When Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee in mid-2016, MRC shifted its emphasis to mainstream media bias against Trump. In July 2016, MRC purchased hundreds of billboards in Cleveland, Ohio, during the Republican National Convention. The advertisements read, “DON’T BELIEVE THE LIBERAL MEDIA.” [18]

Bozell publicly admitted he was wrong about Trump and commended his deregulatory policies and Supreme Court appointments. In June 2014, Bozell and NewsBusters executive editor Tim Graham co-authored “Unmasked: Big Media’s War Against Trump.” In October 2019, Bozell recanted his contribution to the “Against Trump” issue of National Review. [19]

In October 2018, an MRC report found that 92% of mainstream media coverage of President Trump was negative. [20] In August 2020, a report from MRC claimed that 95% of mainstream media coverage of President Trump was negative. The study also found that ABC, CBS, and NBC had nine times as much coverage of President Trump than Democratic candidate Joe Biden. [21]

Funding

The Media Research Center received $13,498,994 in revenue in 2018,. [22]

MRC is funded by numerous right-of-center and right-wing foundations. From 2008-2017, Republican megadonor Robert Mercer has been MRC’s largest donor through his Mercer Family Foundation. [23] Mercer’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer, is or was a board member of MRC. [24]

MRC has received $4,467,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation, $2,265,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, $1,895,670 from Donors Trust, $1,055,000 from the John Templeton Foundation, $800,000 from the Bradley Impact Fund, $456,520 from the Donors Capital Fund, $434,746 from the William H Donner Foundation, $407,500 from the Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation, $280,000 from the F.M. Kirby Foundation, $268,300 from the National Christian Charitable Foundation, $225,000 from the Castle Rock Foundation, $220, 000 from the Adolph Coors Foundation, $92,818 from the Leadership Institute, $70,000 from the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation, $60,000 from the John M. Olin Foundation, and $50,000 from the Alleghany Foundation. [25]

In 2009, MRC received $50,000 from Exxon Mobil. [26]

Expenditure

The Media Research Center spent $12,768,449 in 2018. More than half its expenses were paid to staff, including over $488,000 to president L. Brent Bozell III, $437,000 to executive vice president David Martin, and over $200,000 to three other high-level employees. [27]

In 2012, Ben Jacobs of the Daily Beast reported that the MRC spent $350,000 to purchase a six-bedroom home in East Berlin, Pennsylvania, from its own vice president, David Martin. MRC declined to comment on the purpose of the purchase. [28]

Criticism

The Media Research Center has been criticized for introducing conservative bias into its reporting. In 1998, the left-wing Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) claimed MRC used cherry-picked sources and false equivalencies in its comparisons between alleged left-wing biased reporting and balanced reporting. [29] In 2005, the Columbia Journalism Review called MRC “propaganda clothed as critique.” [30]

References

  1. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  2. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  3. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  4. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  5. “CyberAlert.” MRC. Accessed February 6, 2021. http://archive.mrc.org/archive/cyber/welcome.asp. ^
  6. Hart, Peter. “Meet the Myth-Makers.” FAIR. July 1, 1998. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://fair.org/extra/meet-the-myth-makers/. ^
  7. “Bozell Leaves Parents Television Council.” Media Post. September 6, 2006. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/47694/bozell-leaves-parents-television-council.html. ^
  8. “MRC.” MRC. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.mrc.org/. ^
  9. “About Us.” CNSNews. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://cnsnews.com/about-us. ^
  10. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  11. Guaglione, Sara. “CNS News is Now the Fastest-Growing Conservative News Site.” Media Post. July 28, 2020. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/354137/cns-news-is-now-fastest-growing-conservative-news.html. ^
  12. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  13. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  14. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  15. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  16. “About Us.” MRCNewsBusters. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.newsbusters.org/about. ^
  17. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  18. Mahaskey, M. Scott. “The Deep Roots of Trump’s War on the Press.” Politico Magazine. April 26, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/04/26/the-deep-roots-trumps-war-on-the-press-218105. ^
  19. Peters, Jeremy W. “The ‘Never Trump’ Coalition That Decided Eh, Never Mind, He’s Fine.” New York Times. October 5, 2019. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/05/us/politics/never-trumper-republicans.html. ^
  20. “Media Trump Hatred Shows In 92% Negative Coverage Of His Presidency: Study.” Investors.com. October 10, 2018. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/media-trump-hatred-coverage/. ^
  21. Harper, Jennifer. “Broadcast coverage of Trump 95% negative, according to new study.” Washington Times. August 17, 2020. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2020/aug/17/broadcast-coverage-of-trump-95-negative-according-/. ^
  22. “Media research Center Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/541429009/01_2020_prefixes_52-56%2F541429009_201812_990_2020012817080357. ^
  23. “Media Research Center.” DeSmog. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://www.desmogblog.com/media-research-center#s10. ^
  24. Kutner, Max. “Meet Robert Mercer, the Mysterious Billionaire Benefactor of Breitbart.” Newsweek. November 21, 2016. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://www.newsweek.com/2016/12/02/robert-mercer-trump-donor-bannon-pac-523366.html. ^
  25. “Media Research Center.” DeSmog. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://www.desmogblog.com/media-research-center#s10. ^
  26. “Oil giant gave £1 million to fund climate skeptics.” The Times. July 18, 2010. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/oil-giant-gave-pound1-million-to-fund-climate-sceptics-gtwrq8m03bl. ^
  27. “Media research Center Form 990.” ProPublica. Accessed February 4, 2021. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/display_990/541429009/01_2020_prefixes_52-56%2F541429009_201812_990_2020012817080357. ^
  28. Jacobs, Ben. “The Media Research Center’s Strange Investment.” Daily Beast. July 11, 2017. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-media-research-centers-strange-investment-1?ref=scroll. ^
  29. Hart, Peter. “Meet the Myth-Makers.” FAIR. July 1, 1998. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://fair.org/extra/meet-the-myth-makers/. ^
  30. Montopoli, Brian. “Propaganda Clothed as Critique.” Columbia Journalism Review. March 23, 2005. Accessed February 6, 2021. https://archives.cjr.org/behind_the_news/propaganda_clothed_as_critique.php?page=all. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 1988

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $14,208,060 $13,202,105 $17,273,058 $2,835,432 Y $11,432,024 $1,397,277 $266,791 $808,870 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $13,302,536 $15,551,216 $16,403,551 $3,475,354 Y $10,600,437 $2,083,003 $253,645 $907,969 PDF
    2015 Dec Form 990 $15,426,026 $14,818,576 $18,380,980 $3,567,573 Y $12,739,414 $1,777,719 $322,369 $843,122 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $15,283,711 $14,272,420 $17,716,179 $2,523,519 Y $13,085,600 $969,565 $351,143 $870,414 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $17,344,116 $14,582,674 $17,613,387 $2,638,824 Y $13,334,896 $837,623 $245,676 $785,512 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $15,903,147 $15,186,613 $13,006,163 $1,726,305 Y $14,710,845 $793,060 $192,977 $907,009 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $12,325,724 $12,624,348 $11,550,766 $1,308,395 Y $11,184,645 $266,436 $186,646 $761,364 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Media Research Center

    1900 CAMPUS COMMONS DR STE 600
    RESTON, VA 20191-1535